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For The Term of His Natural Life

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For The Term of His Natural Life

Published 1927

This is the greatest of all Austrlian Silent films. Made just before the advent of synchronised sound, this film had a limited period of commercial viabilty before it dissapeared from sight. Based on the serialised novel by Marcus Clarke, this was the most expensive film produced in Australia at the time. It costed 50,000 pounds when the average Australian film was made for around 1000 pounds.

The film stars George Fisher as Richard Devine/Rufus Dawes/John Rex and Eva Novak as Sylvia Vickers and was adapted, produced and directed by Norman Dawn, who later went to Hollwood and made classic B-grade movies like "Bowanga Bowanga" and "Two Lost Worlds".

"For The Term of His Natural Life" was remade as a 6 episode 9 hour mini series with Colin Friels and Anthony Perkins.


Run time 93 mins
Producer Norman Dawn
Production Company Australasian Films
Audio/Visual Silent, B/W
Contact Information <a href="">Video Cellar</a>


George Fisher...Rufus Dawe/John Rex
Eva Novak...Sylvia Vickers
Dunstan Webb...Maurice Frere
Jessica Harcourt...Sarah Purfoy
Arthur McLaglen...Gabbett
Katherine Dawn...Mrs. Vickers
Gerald Kay Souper...Major Vickers
Marion Marcus Clarke...Lady Devine
Arthur Tauchert...Warden Troke
Beryl Gow...Sylvia Vickers as child
Compton Coutts...Reverend Meekin
Mayne Lynton...Reverend North
Carlton Stuart...Commandant Burgess
William O'Hanlon...The Crow
Arthur Greenaway...Lord Bellasis
Edward Howell...Kirkpatrick
Fred Twitcham...Surgeon Pine
Charles Weatherby...Captain Blunt
Steve Murphy...Jeremy Vetch


Reviewer: Dr Feel Rotten - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 22, 2011
Subject: Remarkable film
I'm not a big fan of most silent films, but this one just got me good. I really enjoyed it and empathized with Dawes throughout. Sadly the prison system in the US has reverted back to this kind of savagery almost stopping just short of forced harsh labor and floggings but teeters ever so closely to it on a daily basis.
Reviewer: IAmTheRedDragon - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 3, 2009
Subject: A rare and unusual gem
Thank you so much for uploading this. I watched and loved the totally absorbing and gripping TV series of this story when it aired here in the UK in the early 1980s, and it had stayed in my memory as a TV classic ever since. I kept hoping it would be repeated so that I could record it, as I did not have a VCR back in those days, but no luck, and attempts to find it in later years commercially on either VHS or DVD were also fruitless. Then two months ago I found one DVD copy of it on eBay Australia and was overjoyed to buy it and watch it all again.

Then along comes this upload, and it has been fascinating to see how the early movie and the modern TV series compare, picking out bits that are remarkably alike and those that are very different. This too is a very gripping film and it is only a pity that, having been made so close to the beginning of the talkies, it didn't get made as a talkie. But as silent films go, this is very well produced and its large budget does show.

Highly recommended.
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